The character of the Indian state – Choppam

The following explanation on the character of the Indian state was written around 2010, however we feel the basic principles laid out here are still valid. 

What kind of state is India, and why does it matter?

Why does it matter what kind of state India is?

For a workers movement in struggle, the character of the demands put forward is crucial. Transitional demands urging the movement forward need above all a clear objective towards which the transition is taking place. As well as a clear starting point from which the transition is departing.

The character of a state determines both the starting point and the objective of the transition. And this means it determines the priorities for revolutionary action. Are they historical (e.g. getting rid of feudalism), or national (e.g. emancipation from colonial rule)? In this case they are bourgeois democratic priorities. Are they rural (e.g. land reform)? This is a democratic priority directly challenging the landowning bourgeoisie. Or are they urban (e.g. working conditions, employment, etc)? In this case they are directly socialist.

The different priorities posit different potential alliances – sometimes cross-class when bourgeois democratic objectives are concerned. Sometimes firmly class-based where working class objectives are concerned.

To gain the confidence of the working class and win the leadership of the proletariat, revolutionary priorities need to be visible always and everywhere. And if they are off-target in any way, working class confidence will suffer.

The Indian state – alternative characterizations

India can be characterized in a number of different ways, with each alternative representing a point or node of development in an historical spectrum. Broadly speaking, the spectrum covers two stages. The first is national oppression – from colonial exploitation (the old imperialism) by way of national liberation to semi-colonial exploitation (the new imperialism). The second is class oppression – from the exploitation of the working class in a relatively autonomous bourgeois state to the exploitation of the working class on an international scale by an imperialist state. It is important to remember that imperialist oppression is qualitatively greater and more devastating for both dependent nations and dependent classes. The degree of exploitation and the repressive measures employed are more deadly and more far-reaching.

The main alternatives with respect to India are:

  • Transitional Post-Colonial: the main tasks here are both historical and national, and comprise the uprooting of social, political and economic strongholds of feudalism and colonialism.

  • Semi-Colonial: here finance, trade, manufacturing and services are predominantly in the hands of foreign capital in general ie at the mercy of imperialist states. Imperialist oppression in general has replaced the despotic oppression of a single colonial power. This alternative puts both national and social emancipation on the agenda, with national issues appearing more immediate to the masses.

  • Independent Bourgeois: here class oppression is the major determining characteristic. The national bourgeoisie and its state machinery are in control of the economy and the armed force needed to preserve this relative autonomy. Foreign capital is present but not able to dictate its own terms. Imperialist states are kept at bay. The major tasks are social, aiming at class emancipation. The exploitation and repression are those of advanced capitalism “at home”. The defensive attitude towards other bourgeois states adds an element of national sovereignty to the tasks, but this is subordinate to the interests of the working class and the democratic issue of national self-determination can be handled better by the working class than by the bourgeoisie.

  • Imperialist: this alternative combines the task of working class emancipation in the imperialist state with that of fighting to liberate the working classes of other countries subject to the exploitation and repression of the imperialist state – including where necessary the national emancipation of these countries.

The character of India in relation to these alternatives will emerge in the examination of important aspects of the Indian situation.

Historical aspects

There is an ancient imperial tradition in India including both home-grown and foreign systems. In an historical perspective the British arrived late and took over a lot of “pre-packaged” administrative, geographical and economic features from former empires. What they did achieve – apart from unprecedented levels of exploitation and death – was the unification of the subcontinent, the development of a native bourgeoisie and native strata of technical specialists, professionals and bureaucrats.

They also made sure they preserved and amplified features of the old Indian civilization that served their interests. Feudal relics were employed as “native princes” to ensure tribute without requiring expensive colonial intervention. The caste system was encouraged and utilized to stratify and split the population. Religious differences were exploited to divide and rule – most successfully to cripple and castrate the subcontinent on independence by making sure it split along religious lines – hindu vs muslim. (Although failure to handle religion correctly led to the potentially lethal threat to British rule posed by the Indian Mutiny.)

In all, the British took over all the developed features of former states that were to their benefit, while demoting the former rulers and making them into tools of British domination, along with relics of the past like feudalism, caste and religion.

And when they left they made sure that the new rulers of independent India were in a far weaker position than they need have been, bequeathing them a knot of highly toxic snakes that they were ill-fitted to handle, unravel and dispose of.

However, they also left behind a large and skilled cadre of political, administrative, professional and technical Indians, who were united in their hatred for British rule even while they were seduced by British culture (e.g. education and sport) and fractured into contradictory and self-destructive special interests.

Economic and class aspects

Although much of India remained static under a form of Oriental Despotism (in the sense developed by Marx in the Grundrisse), the former empires brought a dynamic element into the subcontinent in the great trading and manufacturing cities that the British weren’t slow to turn to their own advantage. The developing financial, mercantile and manufacturing bourgeoisies grew under colonialist rule and were very well placed to take independent India into an era of undisputed market-driven capitalist development. They were aided in this of course by the protective and fostering services of the independent bourgeois Indian state.

The question of whether the Indian bourgeoisie after liberation was independent or merely comprador is not hard to answer. Comprador bourgeoisies are spineless and obsequious in relation to their foreign masters, although they now and then vomit on their shoes. Neither the India state nor the Indian bourgeoisie taken as a whole have ever been spineless or obsequious towards the British or any other potential imperialist overlord. They have played imperialist states off against each other, and played these off against the Soviet Union. They have leveraged the strategic fears of the imperialists (the Soviet Union and China) to obtain nuclear weapons, and exploited the desire of the Soviet Union to neutralize imperialist influence in the subcontinent in order to widen their network of trading partners and suppliers of arms and technology, so as to lessen dependence on any single great power. No enslaved post-colonial state could manage this.

Perhaps the most important question in regard to the character of India looking at the bourgeoisie is “who owns what?” Can it be said that the Indian bourgeoisie owns the forces of production in India both in its own right and via the state? Considering the clout of huge groups like Tata and Reliance, and the thoroughly bourgeois character of the fundamental laws of land and property ownership, and of production and exchange, and the way state ownership and investment is subservient to the needs of the bourgeoisie rather than the nation as a productive entity (in a similar manner to state ownership and investment under the Welfare State in postwar Britain) – bearing all this in mind along with the decidedly subordinate (if still powerful) role of foreign capital in India, it can be argued that the Indian bourgeoisie owns and controls the forces of production in India. The alternatives are ownership and control by foreign capital, on the one hand, or ownership and control by the state (as in China, where the state owns the forces of production both in its own right and via the bourgeoisie), on the other. The first alternative is patently false, and the falsity of the second is clear enough if the investment and military priorities of the Indian state are taken into account. The very prominent role of the state in India is necessary to enable it to look after the interests of the bourgeois class as a whole, fostering and protecting domestic capital against competing foreign capitals.

The most important issue in regard to the working class and its position in India is connected with the overwhelming social pressure of the land question. On the one hand the huge rural population comprises a mass base with the potential for irresistible revolutionary mobilization. The countless masses of landless labourers are not merely class allies of the urban working class, but a colossal and integral force within the Indian working class in general. In addition to these millions of rural labourers owning nothing but their labour power, there are further millions of close and natural class allies of the working class, namely the poor peasants engaged in subsistence farming or compelled by debt or violence to produce crops for big farmers, powerful landowners, or agribusiness, rather than for their use and sale in their own interest.

The dynamics of the land question in India are the same as those in all countries where subsistence farming has been the main occupation for hundreds if not thousands of years. Marx describes the ravages of the invasion of the land by capitalism and the market in Capital, in chapters on the displacement of poor crofters in Scotland by sheep bred for profit and on the effects of increasingly brutal legislation in England from before the English Revolution aimed at driving poor farmers off the land along with their dependents farmhands.

This invasion had two effects that accelerated the growth both of the bourgeoisie and the working class. One was the take-over of most land by large market-driven farming operations, which transformed the landowners from a feudal class to a relatively autonomous branch of the bourgeoisie at the same time as it created a new stratum of the bourgeoisie in the shape of medium and large-scale farmers. The other was the forced migration of the rural poor into the cities. This process created the first great modern cities dominated by the manufacturing and commercial bourgeoisie and populated by a swelling mass of dispossessed and desperately poor proletarians, living in appalling conditions. The Manchester described by Engels in The Condition of the Working Class in England in 1844 is a typical city of this kind.

In India (and all other countries with the same dynamic) the invasion of the land by capital and the conquest of production by market forces began much later than in England, but surpassed the horrors of the English process many times over.

The bourgeois academic world euphemistically refers to this process, which accelerated enormously after World War 2, as “urbanization”. As if the location of the final destination was the most important thing. Once we call the process by its correct name, however – proletarianization – it is easy to see its fundamental importance in the development of modern bourgeois nations worldwide.

By appropriating the land to produce for profit, the bourgeoisie increases its own power and correspondingly weakens the rural population. Starvation drives the dispossessed rural population into overpopulated cities where they barely survive in filthy slums or in the streets, or in precarious employment in brutal conditions surrounded by desperate unemployed people competing ruthlessly for the few miserable jobs available.

India is perhaps the most terrifying example of this process. Untold millions of poverty-stricken rural “refugees” have fled and are fleeing the destruction of their livelihood by capital. These millions are urban proletarians and have no choice in the matter. But they are still rural laborers or peasants at heart. Which means that Indian cities are teeming with uprooted country people who Lenin (in similar circumstances in late 19th century Russia) called “peasant-workers”. The implications of this for the Indian revolution are huge.

The undeniable scope and social and political impact of these processes make nonsense of any attempt to claim that India today is in any real sense a feudal or caste-driven or colonial country.

The scale of these processes generating on the one hand great concentrations of bourgeois power and wealth and on the other great concentrations of proletarian impoverishment and powerlessness create a social situation in which class tensions are intolerable and visibly approaching breaking point. Rural resistance to these processes has already led to a state of civil war in large parts of India, for instance.

Political aspects

The fundamental political question is “who represses who, and for whose benefit?” The role of the bourgeois fraud Mahatma Gandhi gives a very clear answer to this for India. He inspired both the Congress Party in India, and the African National Congress in South Africa. The goal of both movements from the perspective of their leaders (Gandhi and Mandela) was national liberation with as little disturbance of the bourgeois character of the country as possible. In both cases the leaderships diverted and demobilized and disarmed the movements as much as they could without defeating the whole project of bourgeois national liberation. And of course both these executioners of some of the most powerful revolutionary movements in the modern world are canonized as saints by bourgeois public opinion.

So after liberation the national bourgeoisie, with a great deal of help from imperialism, began repressing the working and poor masses through a state of its own creation. And they did this for their own benefit at the expense of the working class. Some of their new-found wealth was naturally siphoned off as tribute to the imperialists until the growth of the domestic bourgeoisie made this no longer necessary.

In class terms this means that repression in India is carried out by the Indian bourgeoisie against the urban and rural proletariat. Not by foreign capital, and not against the whole nation. It is class against class, with no elements of colonial or semi-colonial national oppression, and with no great bourgeois democratic tasks remaining to be fulfilled. A thoroughly modern class war in a relatively autonomous bourgeois state.

In fact, far from India being subject to foreign oppression, it is extending its power beyond internal exploitation to the exploitation of workers in other countries, with the presence of its capital in many parts of Asia and Africa.

As already mentioned, civil war has broken out between the rural proletariat along with the poor peasantry and the landowners, usurping capital, and the state, in large parts of India. The dynamics of this armed revolt are not fully understood by its leadership, as it does not have a correct class analysis of the causes or of the forces in conflict, which leads to false priorities including a debilitating rejection of the crucial role of the urban working class and the proletarian revolution in resolving questions of rural exploitation and repression. The central issue of expropriation is a good example of this strategic weakness. Who should expropriate the oppressors, and on what political basis, and at what level should the land taken over be owned and worked? The leaders of the rebellion have no satisfactory answers to these questions.

India’s geo-strategic position in an imperialist world

On the basis of what has been said so far, the character of the Indian state is beginning to emerge quite clearly. India’s geo-strategic position removes any remaining doubts. In an imperialist world, India is not owned or controlled by any other country – in fact, it is hardly even threatened in these respects, and if it was threatened it would be able to mobilize its largely home-equipped military and its nuclear weapons against the potential aggressor. And any potential aggressor would destroy itself if it attempted to invade India, or if it launched a nuclear attack.

So it is at the very least an autonomous bourgeois state, and one with considerably larger resources than most European imperialist states.

Looking at the strategic situation on a continental scale it becomes clear that India is a power in its own right in Asia. Its only conceivable competitors at this level for Asian-based domination in Asia are China and Russia. Because of the greater competition on a world scale represented by US and European and Japanese imperialisms taken together, these three countries are performing a strange dance for three — part minuet, and part war-dance. There is cooperation a-plenty, in trade, arms, resources and mutual support against the current imperialist superpowers. And there’s even a name for this community of interests (including Brazil, in a similar kind of position in Latin America) – the BRIC countries.

But in an imperialist world all countries are dragged into cut-throat competition willy-nilly, and this is as clear as day when it comes to the struggle between India and China for command of South Asia and South-East Asia. Billion-dollar trade agreements are made with countries like Burma to build and get favorable access to strategic positions on the rim of the Indian Ocean. China is so far winning this particular battle, but Burma is naturally playing the two big neighbors off against each other, so India has considerable presence, too. China is successfully keeping India out of South-East Asia in spite of India’s efforts to increase its presence and influence there, Whereas India is far ahead of China with its stakes in Afghanistan, in Central Asia and in Iran and the Persian Gulf states. Africa, on the western rim of the Indian Ocean is to some extent being divided up between India and China, where there isn’t sufficient great power imperialist presence to keep them out.

It goes without saying that Bangladesh is India’s economic and military hinterland, with few if any strings attached. It is obvious who is the domineering party in relation to Pakistan, even though Pakistan is hostile to India and fights bitterly to keep India at a distance. Among other things by selling itself as a base for US imperialist aggression in the region and obtaining nuclear weapons that it is politically and economically incompetent to control. However, Pakistan has been thrashed more than once in wars with India.

Russia is present in the Asian framework, but so far more as a looming cloud than an actual hurricane. But its interests in Central Asia are undeniable, and it has a border with China that practically bisects the Asian continent if you include Mongolia. Not only does it exert powerful pressure on Europe, but it is also closer to both Japan and the United States than China is.

The major strategic aspect of the three-way competition between India, China and (to a lesser extent) Russia, is that all these countries are attempting to expand their economic and military influence in Asia. Like pre-war Germany, they need Lebensraum – “room to breathe”. And like pre-war Germany, if they don’t get it then internal pressure will build up until the boiler explodes.

The most important factor keeping them tightly locked within their own borders is blindingly obvious when we move from an Asian perspective to a worldwide perspective. It is the domination of every corner of the world by the current great power imperialisms – every corner, that is, except where states of exceptional economic and military power are able to keep them out. So there is a terrible tension building up as current imperialisms keep India, China and Russia locked within their own borders, and these countries are developing their forces of production as much as they can, producing an equal and opposite pressure to keep these imperialist interests out.

There are close historical similarities between India, Russia and China today and Germany and Japan before World War 2. These two countries were also expanding their forces of production so powerfully that they were able not only to keep out world imperialism but challenge it directly in war. They fought the war to grab more of the world for themselves at the expense of the established imperialisms of the day.

At the moment India, Russia and China are only engaged in small-scale military aggression, so the main expression of their expansionist drive is economic.

For our characterization of the Indian state it is valuable to remember a crucial difference between it and Germany and Japan after World War 2. Defeated in war, both countries were nonetheless recognized by western imperialism to be absolutely necessary barriers to the pressure being exerted in the world economy by the workers’ states of the Soviet Union and (after 1949) China. To be as useful as possible as buffer states they had to be both encouraged to feel autonomous and to be discouraged from getting out of line from the point of view of US and European imperialism. Hence the effort put into reviving their national economies and national bourgeoisies while transforming both countries into military bases for trans-Atlantic imperialism – the Marshall Plan being one such effort.

In this way Germany, Japan (and South Korea, too) were deployed as relatively autonomous but very effective buffer states, containing both the Soviet Union and China. This was proof, if such was needed, of the growing primacy of political considerations over economic ones in the postwar world. The US fostered potentially powerful competitors for the greater strategic good of binding China and the Soviet Union.

The difference between this process and India’s situation is very simple. India was never fostered or revived by imperialism after defeat in war, or deployed by it as a subordinate and crippled buffer state. After throwing off the British yoke, India has been its own master and grown on its own terms. It is an autonomous bourgeois state with no built-in strategic fetters. It is only constrained by external pressure from the imperialist world, not internally crippled like Japan and Germany.

A final political-economic point that has to be made is the qualitative differences between the three states of India, Russia, and China. India is bourgeois from roots to crown, Russia is perhaps the ideal embodiment of State Capitalism – with the centralized state apparatus and economic structures inherited from the Soviet Union, while ownership is in the hands of fabulously rich capitalists. The state is based on domestic capital and supports the capitalists, as long as they don’t disagree with the state. In the first two decades of post-Soviet Russia the ousting of serious competition by foreign capital has more or less been completed, and “oligarchs” refusing to toe the state line have been deposed or driven into exile. And China is a workers state, on a non-capitalist socio-economic foundation, albeit an extremely deformed one.

The struggle for a greater share of the world’s wealth between these three states is practically a laboratory experiment in the relative strengths of three different state formations – 1) India, a purely bourgeois state, 2) Russia, state capitalist (capitalist but directed and to a large extent owned by a powerful but clearly bourgeois state), and 3) China, a non-capitalist state.

And the indisputable fact of this trial of strength, and the fear it induces in the current imperialist great powers, also indicates that not only are they autonomous and expanding against the interests of these powers, but that they are well on the way to becoming serious political and economic challengers or even equals to these powers. In other words (ignoring for the moment the special case of China as a deformed workers state) they are challenging for imperialist status, although they haven’t fully acquired it yet.

Revolutionary perspectives

First of all a negative point has to be made. There is no popular agitation in India demanding the expulsion of the IMF, or the repudiation of India’s foreign debt. These features of foreign imperialist domination are just not present in India.

The hottest struggle currently taking place concerns the land, as is to be expected. A large-scale armed revolt of poor peasants and the rural poor is in full swing and has been going on for years.

In the city regions a rising tide of strikes is taking place, some of them involving tens of thousands of workers, even if they are only regional – as in the recent strike of sugar factory workers in Maharashtra to get the back pay they have been owed for years. Others involving a few hundred workers show that a strategic strike can paralyze a big city – as was the case in the motormen’s strike in Bombay earlier this year.

The scope of the strikes is extending nation-wide with calls for and the organizing of general strikes.

These struggles are not for democratic demands. The rural struggles are not just for land reform parceling out the land of absentee or brutal landlords. They aim for expropriation of the land. And the strikes (naturally) are for workers demands such as pay, conditions, employment and access to health and education regardless of personal wealth.

In fact democratic demands as such represent a reactionary line dragging the struggle back by decades.

There is no way a democratic state of workers and peasants would solve any of India’s biggest problems, and there is not even a ghost of a chance of such a state materializing, regardless of the number of banners or leaflets demanding it as the slogan for power. The national question has been transformed into an international question, not one of freeing India from a foreign yoke, but of freeing other countries from the Indian yoke. Questions of language, ethnicity and religion are still inflammatory, but they can be handled within the framework of the current state. A new, more democratic bourgeois state would not further the interests of oppressed groups more effectively than today’s state.

International questions such as war, infrastructural conflicts (a general strike of dock workers and/or other workers involved in international transport, for instance), etc, are purely a class question, involving class solidarity both at home and abroad. The question of war brings to the fore the special case of China as a deformed workers state in relation to the classic Indian bourgeois state. The Indian proletariat has no serious class choice open to it but to agitate for the defeat of its own bourgeoisie, which in this light it would be not at all misleading to call sub-imperialist. The Chinese proletariat, however, despite all the distortions of the state and the grotesque concessions made to foreign and even domestic capital, must defend its class state against foreign aggression. In both cases however, the rulers need to be thrown aside if a healthy proto-socialist workers state is to be set up.

Conclusions

The conclusions to be drawn from this analysis of the character of the Indian state have already been indicated in the main part of the text.

The solution to the all-important question of the land and how a revolutionary proletarian leadership should approach it is rooted in the character of the land reform being demanded both by urban and rural proletariats. As mentioned above, a “negative” perspective – the removal of oligarchic, absentee, brutal landlords and the parceling out of their land is completely inadequate. It opens the door to the growth of a new class of rich peasants who will gradually drive the poorer peasants off the land in a new iteration of the old process. This is a bourgeois democratic approach, and it is also fatal for the urban working class in that it doesn’t address for one second the question of who owns the real estate in the cities, and urban landlords are an invisible cancer eating away the productive forces of society. A “positive” approach is needed, calling for complete expropriation of the land, both in the countryside and in cities, and the control of its use by and for the benefit of those who use it for productive and socially useful labor.

The question of war – especially one involving China – must be tackled with a perspective of “the enemy is at home”. The sub-imperialist Indian bourgeoisie is an implacable enemy both of the Indian working class it exploits and uses as cannon fodder, and of the working class in countries it attacks.

The perspective needed to focus these demands into a coherent programme is that of the Permanent Revolution underpinning Bolshevik-Leninism, as it is laid out in the Transitional Programme of the Fourth International.

The fundamental issue here is that of the revolutionary leadership of the proletariat, which must have the formation of a revolutionary workers state as its overriding objective. In order to reach this objective, bourgeois democratic demands (such as national liberation, electoral rights, equality before the law etc) have to be realized in passing, as part of the struggle for revolutionary class-based demands. The demands raised in concrete struggle, in agitation among the masses, must be transitional in that they cover both the immediate demands being raised around the issue involved, and point forward to a more general solution to this and other similar issues for the benefit of the whole working class in a society run in the interests of the working class.

The mass leaderships of the labor movement and the left since the hijacking of the Soviet Union by the counter-revolutionary Stalinist bureaucracy have shown themselves time and again to be mass misleaders of the working class and its class allies. Social Democracy is committed to capitalism and the bourgeois state. It is no longer even reformist. National democrats have often succeeded in liberating their countries from a colonial yoke, but have not been able to secure the country from imperialist exploitation and depredation. The only possible way of securing a country against imperialism is by expropriating the bourgeoisie – as the trajectory of the bourgeois democratic revolution in Cuba showed. And in fact the same was the case in China after the Red Army had driven the Kuomintang into exile (accompanied by the Soviet embassy!). Chavez in Venezuela is now at an historical crossroads of this kind.

Mass leaderships of the working class rooted in the success of an anti-capitalist revolution, but that usurped the revolution and pursued counter-revolutionary policies, ie Stalinism and Maoism, have led the class into an endless series of deadly and demoralizing defeats. And the non-Social Democratic, non-Stalinist left leaderships have been riven by the twin forces of opportunism and sectarianism.

It is necessary to evaluate the lessons of these failures of leadership and propose policies that lead to a healthy workers revolution rather than botching it or annihilating it.

And finally, one of the ways in which India’s revolutionary project could be botched up badly would be to raise as power demands the slogans of National Independence and a Constituent Assembly. If the working class and its allies are in a position to raise slogans this direct in agitation for taking over the state, they are in a position to raise slogans for their own class rather than these obsolete slogans of bourgeois democracy.

Class power demands in a state like India will have to call for power to the soviets and the expropriation of all capitalist property.

The rise of the far right in Nepal

B.D Bista

Far-right groups in Nepal have been gaining some momentum in the recent time. With the major political parties still lingering over the promulgation of a constitution through the constituent assembly and with the masses feeling betrayed by their leaders and with their common day to day grievances going unheard, the far-right has found the perfect time to raise its head again, after being buried by a wave of a Maoist popular revolt and a mass uprising that led to the abolition of monarchy and founding of a secular, federal democratic republic.

The monarchist party RPP Nepal has long been advocating the reinstatement of the monarchy and the Hindu state. From the first constituent assembly that failed to draft a constitution within the stipulated time period to the second constituent assembly, the party has managed to more than triple its votes from 76,864 to 252,579, an increase from a meagre 0.74% to 2.79%. Although it still is a tiny minority of votes, its influence on the people which seems to be increasing day by day, cannot be measured from their votes alone. The two major political parties Nepali Congress and CPN(UM-L) turning their backs on the previously agreed agendas and the Maoist party led by Prachanda and Baburam unable to intervene, with them slipping to being a minority from being the single largest party in the first constituent assembly and the masses feeling alienated from them, it is only helping the cause of the far-right groups.

Moreover, a faction of the Nepali Congress Party led by the notorious Khum Bahadur Khadka, who had boasted of suppressing the Maoist rebellion within weeks when it first broke out in 1996 when he was the minister for home affairs, has formed a Hindu ‘army’ and recently threatened to cut off arms of all non-Hindus in a demonstration. Just yesterday, the Prime Minister Sushil Koirala from the governing party Nepali Congress, while receiving a memorandum from.the monarchist party RPP Nepal, said that he had no idea where secularism came from, implying that his party was never in its favour, unsurprisingly, as all these agendas like abolition of monarchy, secularism etc were pushed forward by the Maoists. To add to that, the ascension of the right-wing Hindu chauvinist party BJP to power in India, which has been historically meddling with Nepali politics, has helped the far-right Hindu groups here in Nepal too. Many of the BJP leaders have openly called for reinstatement of Nepal as a Hindu state. They have been comparatively silent on the question of monarchy. But it’s no secret that they favour a comeback of a Hindu monarchy. The ex-king Gyanendra himself has been lobbying amongst the BJP leadership, including the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the last time being during his visit to New Delhi a few weeks back,

The Maoists themselves are in no position to deal with the rising tide of right-wing forces. In addition to dissolving their parallel government, courts and the army, they have also dismantled their last militant force, the Young Communist League a few years back, which would have been an important force to counter the far-right. The party has split twice, recently just a few weeks back. They have drifted away from the classes they claim to represent and more importantly, they haven’t realized the gravity of the situation. If the far-right manages to gain more strength or come to power in the near future, which is not impossible, the Maoists will receive the first blow.

The faster they realize the impending danger, the better will they be prepared to face it. But given the current situation and their attitude towards this issue at hand, it’s unlikely that they will take the necessary steps.

On the Tamil question in Sri Lanka :

Sri Lanka is the key to the Indian Ocean. It has the best ports, the most strategic position, a strong economy with industrial elements in addition to a leading position in tea production and a significant output of precious stones. Commercially it has unimpeded sea routes to Africa, India, the countries on the Bay of Bengal including rising Myanmar, and Indonesia. It also has a powerful and militant working class, which has generated a class-war stalemate situation rather like that in Sweden – welfare concessions in health and education that are very deeply rooted, coupled with political control by single-minded neo-liberal capitalism that has long had the lip-service socialist leaderships of the island’s working class in its pocket. “Trotskyist” governments and coalition deals have done as little for the workers in Sri Lanka as Labour governments in Britain or “Communist” Stalinist governments in West Bengal, or the Maoist leadership in Nepal. Labels are of no consequence when it comes to class policies.

The blight of British imperialist policy is as crippling for Sri Lanka even after “double” independence as it has been in Ireland, where it fostered the literal blight of the potato famine of the 1840s which starved and exiled half the population. And in common with Ireland it has a British diplomatic and strategic legacy of a cultural and religious antagonism assiduously cultivated to divide and rule for decades and even centuries. In Ireland, Irish Catholic vs British (mainly Scottish) Protestant, and in Sri Lanka Sinhalese Buddist vs Tamil Hindu.

The British were fully aware of the strategic importance of their Ceylon – and struggled as hard to keep it as they could. Separating the island out from the rest of the subcontinent in 1947 they refused to grant it any independence. Militant popular pressure forced them to grant concessions in 1948 – but merely the pretence of the same dominion status as Australia, New Zealand and Canada. The treacherous and divisive policies of Lankan leaders weakened the consciousness of the people, but failed to quell its militancy and democratic desire for full independence. The treachery lay in the welfare state concessions including large-scale nationalization, and the divisiveness in the attempt to institute a Sinhalese only social and cultural monopoly in the island. As long as the continued rule of the British united the whole people, however, the capitalists were helpless and a left-wing insurrection in 1971, although it was put down, led immediately to the cutting of formal ties with Britain and the establishment of the republic of Sri Lanka in 1972.

At this point, the counter-revolutionary working class leadership sabotaged a clear opportunity for the working class to take power and create a real socialist workers state in the subcontinent. It was not long before the neo-liberal bourgeoisie had power in its hands and could stoke the fires of communal antagonism and try to turn the tide of welfare policies and nationalization.

Sri Lanka is not a large nation by South Asian standards – a mere 20 million people. But it isn’t a peasant nation. The population is hugely working class and urbanized, and the rural tea workers are as proletarian as the city dwellers. The potential political clout of the nation can be compared to that of relatively small imperialist nations like Sweden or Holland in that respect. In Asia, perhaps there is a comparison to be made with Singapore in relation to Malaysia – a British strategic victory of divide-and-rule and ethnic antagonisms that it would have loved to replicate in Sri Lanka.

Once the British were out, the petty nationalist and self-seeking capitalist objectives of the bourgeois political forces took over and decades of civil war and social attrition began.

Since Sri Lanka is the key to the Indian Ocean, the biggest question in an international perspective is “Who holds the key to Sri Lanka?” Who controls it?

After decades of civil war, there are two answers to this. The first is more and more clearly India. With the British expelled, the Indian ruling class stepped in and applied all the lessons of divide-and -rule they had learnt so well. But even more subtly, they did it from a distance through the agency of the Tamil population, until they were forced to intervene openly with their own forces.

The second answer, and the more interesting one, is “Nobody”. Sri Lanka is uncontrollable. Here again the comparison with Ireland is inevitable. The only solution for both countries is complete independence from foreign domination and a genuinely socialist workers state, with an end to communal warfare and full and equal rights for all, both democratic and social. Until this materializes, a situation of permanent tension and crippledom will persist. Since both Britain and India realize deep down that the game is up, historically speaking, they are perfectly willing to prolong the agony of such a situation as long as they can. The cost in destruction, suffering and death is immaterial. A divided Sri Lanka, like a divided Ireland, means India, like Britain, can rule the roost and stave off the revolutionary threat to its social and political control.

Given this historical context, what is the present situation in Sri Lanka and the southern Tamil region of India that is inextricably bound up with it.

The third Eelam war ended in 2009 with the complete defeat of the the LTTE and the total destruction of their armed forces. The aftermath of the victory has seen some of the worst atrocities against the Tamil population in Northern Sri Lanka. The Lankan army is said to have killed up to 20,000 Tamil civilians and displaced nearly 200,000 in the course of the war, in what can only be called a genocidal offensive against the Tamil population in Sri Lanka.

With this came the bloody end of one of the most well armed and capable national liberation organizations in the world, but not the cause for which they fought. The question of self-determination of the Tamil people in Sri Lanka remains one of the most potent struggles for self-determination in South Asia. Not only that, but with the extermination of the LTTE and the genocidal persecution of Tamils, this question has only grown sharper and potent today.

By and large the Tamil population in Sri Lanka is employed as tea plantation workers and their demographics are concentrated in the North of the island. While the historic linkage of the Tamils and Sri Lanka goes back to pre-history, the present day demographic is the result of British colonization on the island and the imposed migration of Tamil workers across the Indian Ocean. This created a migrant working class within Sri Lanka as well as a the foundations for a plantation economy in the islands. These factors and the ones previously mentioned, together with the general South Asian anti-colonial movement, created a very militant working class.

The Tamil workers in the tea plantations were and still are in the forefront of class struggle in Sri Lanka. The development of this working class reached a pinnacle in the decade of the 1940s when the first Bolshevik-Leninist force emerged in South Asia and contributed to the formation of the Bolshevik-Leninist Party of India, Burma and Ceylon (as Sri Lanka was known then). By and large the anti-colonial movement in Sri Lanka at this time was constituted and led by the working class and their parties, the bourgeoisie playing little or no role. The British seeing this threat tried to replicate the success of the Congress Party in India and create a bourgeois political force. Its aim was to nip the revolutionary movement in the bud.

The Tamil workers being in a leading position had to be alienated from the majority Sinhalese population. The United National Party, created with the blessings and guidance of British imperialism, was handed power in 1948 under terms decidedly in favor of British imperial interests. The new government would thus be nothing more than a glorified lackey of British imperialism despite the token autonomy of dominion status. This move was steadfastly opposed by the Lanka Sam Samaj Party which was the successor to the Bolshevik-Leninist Party. On the eve of transfer around 50,000 workers were mobilized at its call to oppose this one sided hand-over. This was a first taste of the strength of the working class in Sri Lanka for the nascent bourgeois government.

The next round of battle would be around the new government’s economic policy announced in 1953 which sought concerted attacks against the working class (aimed no doubt to curb the growing power of this revolutionary force). In retaliation the LSSP led the working class in a crippling general strike which nearly forced the ouster of the government. The government was compelled to convene an emergency meeting on a British warship anchored in Colombo harbour and reverse its policy. This action made it clear not only how powerful the working class under a revolutionary leadership could be, but also that it was an urgent matter for the bourgeoisie to cripple this power through a concerted process of divide and rule.

The Sri Lankan bourgeoisie had already effected discriminatory laws aimed at dividing the populace of the island through the Citizenship Act of 1948. This marked a culmination of the communalization begun by the British colonial administration. The act was the first major move to subjugate and institutionalize discrimination against the Tamils of Sri Lanka by denying plantation workers in the highlands voting rights. By the 1956 elections a new method of division was put in place, overtly pandering to Sinhala Buddhist chauvinism. The Sri Lankan Freedom Party was launched which openly appeased to religious and cultural traditions and prejudices of the majority Sinhala Buddhist community. But alongside this, to obtain mass support, the party was driven to propagate a leftist welfare agenda with the nationalization of the plantations high on its agenda.

This combined two of the most tried and tested methods of weakening the working class, as we already made clear: 1) Divide and Rule, through alienating the minority and majority communities from each other, and 2) Concessions, where the working class is pacified by temporary concessions and their militant edge is blunted. The very same year the government led by the SLFP promulgated the Official Language Act (otherwise known as the Sinhala Only Act) which made Sinhala the sole official language of Sri Lanka.

The seeds thus sown begun to flower first crippling the working class leadership, then bringing about their political isolation and paving the way for the rise of rabidly right-wing communal forces. By the 1960s they became influential, founded on a reactionary communal basis. The putatively revolutionary leadership of the LSSP was unprepared to face this challenge having entered into the SLFP under the guidance of the 4th international in an ill-conceived attempt to take it over from inside. This de facto abandonment of independent working-class policies and organization created havoc not just in Sri Lanka but also in the rest of the world revolutionary socialist movement.

The roots of the struggle for self-determination :

The conditions necessitating a future struggle for Tamil self-determination had already been put in place by the discriminatory policies of the Sinhala government. The Citizenship Act of 1948 denying citizenship to migrant workers in the central highlands was the first such act of institutionalized discrimination. The first political organization of the Tamil community, the Tamil Congress, was in government with the ‘moderate and pro-western’ UNP party which promulgated this law. The opposition to the Tamil Congress and the discriminatory laws saw the start of a new more advanced phase of Tamil politics in Sri Lanka. Together with this the progressive deterioration of relations between the majority Sinhala Buddhist and minority Hindu Tamil community continued more strongly after 1956 till the early 70s.

This was a period of great upheaval and revolutionary change in South Asian history and the winds of change blew over Sri Lanka just as hard. The welfarist policies of the SLFP failed to address many of the grievances of the new generation of youth and middle class, and typical of most such post-colonial statist systems, it led to mass discontent and frustration. The failure of the leading working class parties to channel this discontent in a revolutionary direction resulted in the rise of chauvinism.

On the one hand the new government tried to appease reactionary chauvinistic sentiments through its language policy, while on the other hand it failed to deliver on the real needs of the people especially the youth for jobs and economic stability. In this setting the first major communal conflagrations occurred between majority Sinhala and minority Tamil populations. In 1958, the first large scale riots were witnessed in Sri Lanka. The Federal Party which became the main political organization of the Tamils of Sri Lanka, after the failure of the Tamil Congress, was subsequently scapegoated by the government and banned.

Subsequently, the government embarked on an ambitious internal colonization scheme aimed at altering the demographics of the Tamil majority areas around the coastal provinces of the country. This was to be achieved through mass settlements of Sinhalese in Tamil majority areas. Chauvinists lauded this idea, while Tamils opposed it. This scheme was carried out vigorously in the 80s and became the most important factor behind inter-communal violence between Tamils and Sinhalese.

In the decades leading up to the youth uprising of 1971 led by the Maoist JVP *( Janatha Vimukti Peramuma), which espoused then as now a rabidly chauvinistic and arrogant stance towards the Tamils of Sri Lanka, the government continued to aggravate its attacks on the Tamil population, now targeting Tamil cultural identity. Tamil language books, movies, magazines and journals from Tamil Nadu in India were banned. Groups affiliated with the regional bourgeois party the DMK (Dravida Munetra Kazhagham) were also banned. Thereafter, the promulgation of the Standardization rules by the majoritarian government led to a fall in the enrolment of Tamil students at university level.

Under these pressures the estrangement between Tamils and Sinhalese reached a pinnacle. The Federal Party decided to demand a separate state for Tamils in Sri Lanka. This started a new phase of the struggle of the Tamil people, from defending economic and democratic rights to a struggle for secession. The Federal Party united with other Tamil political parties to create the Tamil United Liberation Front in 1975. This party was banned after the elections of 1977 in which it advocated a separate Tamil state.

But alongside this parliamentary force, militant armed groups arose which advocated violent means for achieving secession. The leading militant armed group was the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, or LTTE. Two events propelled the development of the armed movement. First was the burning of the Jaffna library in 1981 in which 95,000 volumes of Tamil literature were destroyed, and the second was the infamous pogrom known as “Black July”. This was a large scale hugely disproportionate retaliation killing thousands of Tamil civilians in response to an ambush by the LTTE on a Sri Lankan army convoy that killed 13 soldiers. This incident destroyed any chance of conciliation between the two communities and cemented the position of the LTTE as the leader of the Tamil cause in Sri Lanka.

The role of Indian sub-imperialism :

The 60s and 70s were a revolutionary period in South Asia. While a near revolutionary situation had arisen in Bengal and Pakistan, a powerful wave of working class struggles swept through India. In reply the bourgeoisies of all South Asian countries resorted to a whole range of reactionary policies, all combining harsh emergency measures coupled with populist concessionary measures. This was exemplified in India by Indira Gandhi’s prime ministership. In the early 1970s, Pakistan and Sri Lanka saw two powerful insurrectionary movements. The first was the Bangladesh liberation war and the latter was the youth insurrection led by the JVP in Sri Lanka. India was active in both, supporting the former while repressing the latter.

The JVP itself was a through and through maoist party with a national democratic agenda, but it was heavily tainted with Sinhala chauvinism. While the party succeeded in channelling the frustration of the Sinhala youth, who had lost opportunities owing to a sluggish statist economy, it failed to create any goodwill among the Tamil minorities and it failed to break the ideological and cultural hold of the reactionary chauvinists. On the contrary this party made peace with them.

The insurrection of 1971 itself was badly planned and hastily executed, but the scale was such that the armed forces of Sri Lanka were unable to handle it. The then Prime Minister Sirimavo Bandaranaike, was forced to rely on Indian military assistance. This was india’s first intervention in the island, and showed its strategically dominating position over Sri Lanka. The revolt was brutally crushed, and in the insurrection was followed by a prolonged period of emergency which lasted until 1977. More importantly, the revolt forced the government to break all remaining ties with the UK, and Ceylon at last became Sri Lanka, a fully independent republic.

The field was thus opened for a new imperial power to take over where Britain left off. The legacy of the ethnic divisions between Tamils and Sinhalese fomented and encouraged by the British provided the perfect bridgehead to extend the influence of Indian capital in Sri Lanka. The cultural connection between Tamils in India and Sri Lanka has only aided this. Though India’s involvement in the LTTE’s liberation struggle was light in the 70s, it increased later on and by the 80s it was substantial. The LTTE itself advocated the supremacy of armed methods over parliamentary means of redressing the grievances of the Tamil population, and would from time to time engage in killings of Tamils themselves who were part of the establishment. The development of this group was encouraged by sections of Tamil politicians within India as well as expatriate Tamils in Europe and America.

By the 80s the LTTE had garnered enough financial and political backing to emerge as the best organized national liberation organization in the world. The actions of the Sri Lankan government cemented its political position among the Tamil populace of the island, driving more and more people towards the goal of Eelam. In 1987 however, the Indian government which had hitherto been supportive of the LTTE and Tamil rights in Sri Lanka made a 180 degree turn. The civil war which erupted after “Black July” caused untold sufferings to the Tamils of Sri Lanka and a steady stream of refugees entered India, arousing strong sentiments within the Tamil population in India. This forced the Indian government to intervene militarily, after diplomatic overtures had failed to bear fruit.

An Indian Peace-Keeping Force was assembled for an intervention in Sri Lanka and bring a swift end to hostilities. By and large this force of 100,000 soldiers ended up fighting the very Tamil people they were ostensibly sent to defend.

After two years of terrible warfare and numerous war crimes, the Indian Peace Keeping Forces faced their own ‘Vietnam’. An anti-war movement had emerged for the first time in India which saw the Indian Tamil population mobilizing in solidarity with their kin in Sri Lanka. Pressure from within and without led to the fall of the Congress government headed by Rajiv Gandhi and the withdrawal of the peace-keeping forces by the subsequent government led by V P Singh. Thus the grand military misadventure ended in debacle and put a stop to India’s political and military interventions in the Indian Ocean and left a political crisis back home. India’s former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, who had authorized the peace-keeping exercise, was subsequently assassinated by an LTTE cadre.

However, India’s capitalists didn’t share in the humiliation of the Indian state. With the massive show of force by India, the Sri Lankan bourgeoisie could no longer ignore India’s dominance over the region and the Indian Ocean as a whole. The Indo-Lankan accord was signed with an aim of bringing about an amicable settlement and lasting peace between the Tamils and Sri Lankan government and sought partial autonomy to the Tamil Eelam areas while recognizing the unity of Sri Lanka. This has since become the cornerstone of ties between India and Sri Lanka. However, the ‘concern’ that the indian bourgeoisie has shown for the plight of Tamils in Sri Lanka is a cleverly concealed sham.

India’s real interests were never allied with the interests of Tamil workers and peasants. The real interest behind India’s intervention was to concretize its military domination and eventually open the Sri Lankan market for Indian capitalist investment and trade. The ‘fruits’ of India’s bloody game in Sri Lanka are being reaped today with Indian capital being the largest foreign investor in the island.

After the Indian peace-keeping troops left, fighting between government forces and the LTTE resumed. Temporary truces would be called till fighting resumed again. Eelam wars 2 and 3 took place between 1990 and 2003 in which the LTTE and the Sri Lankan army fought each other to a stalemate. This pattern went on and on till the final Eelam war fought in 2006-2009. During this war, the Indian navy actively participated in operations against the LTTE’s ‘sea tigers’. The power of the naval assault was seen in course of the war, which completely broke the LTTE’s naval forces. With the key element of the LTTE’s military machinery destroyed the Sri Lankan army swept the floor with the Eelam fighters on all fronts.

The present scenario:

The last phase of the Eelam war was the worst. War crimes were committed brazenly on both sides. This fourth and last Eelam war showed the full vindictive horror of the chauvinistic Sri Lankan bourgeoisie. The final savage phase of the fighting saw the Sri Lankan army conducting wanton massacres of Tamil civilians and constructing squalid detention camps for refugees of the war. The land captured by the Sri Lankan army showed signs of total devastation and depopulation. There is little difference between the destruction they wrought and that of the tsunami that flattened Aceh in Sumatra in Indonesia.

By the end of the war almost a quarter of a million refugees were in refugee camps. The refugees themselves were subject to numerous abuses and the conditions of the camps were decrepit to say the least.

In the face of this calamity organizations like the UN and its Human Rights Commission naturally proved useless, as they were mere hostages to great power interests. India’s timely scuttling of efforts at investigation proved to be decisive in helping the Sri Lankan regime to hide the worst atrocities committed by the army. The conditions of these displaced people have not improved subsequently, either.

The most recent farce was a toothless vote at the UN condemning the excesses of the Sri Lankan army, the importance of which was foolishly exaggerated as somehow indicative of power relations over Sri Lanka. The core question of the rights of the Tamil people of Sri Lanka were altogether forgotten and forsaken.

The destruction of the LTTE has hugely weakened the Tamil cause and has brought the political movement back to square one. But from the ashes new forces can re-emerge, as they must and will.

What must be done:

The Tamil question is one of the most urgent and painful ones in South Asia. It ties in with the larger question of self-determination affecting many oppressed nationalities in South Asia. The experience of the last 60 years has shown that all the bourgeoisies in South Asia are committed to suppressing the democratic aspirations of the people.

The Tamils of Sri Lanka have been the victims of a prolonged policy of discrimination, divide and rule. The present conditions of the Tamil minority in Sri Lanka, as well as the general condition of Sri Lanka itself (suffering through one of the worst economic periods in its recent history with a militarist bonapartist regime presiding over it, under the wing of India’s own military establishment) show the utter failure of the bourgeoisie to meet the needs and aspirations of the people. What is most clear, and painfully so, is that the enemy of the working class is not from its own class, not a rival working class, but the enemy class, the bourgeoisie. The irreconcilable conflict between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat must be understood as the supreme conflict underlying all deep social antagonisms. The Tamil worker and the Sinhala worker are both exploited by the bourgeoisie of Sri Lanka and its patrons in India. The common class enemy ties both communities into one class struggle.

But in order to forge such a unity, given the unforgettable horrors and atrocities perpetrated in the inter-communal fighting, the burden must fall on the shoulders of the majority community to go out of its way to bridge the ethnic divide built up and cemented over 6 decades. In the first instance this requires honouring the aspirations of the Tamils for autonomous governance of the Tamil provinces and a respect for their linguistic and cultural rights. The provisions proclaiming Buddhism as the state religion and Sinhala as the sole official language must be struck down, and the libraries and cultural centres of the Tamils must be rebuilt, and the soldiers and groups responsible for crimes against the Tamil community be brought to book.

There is at present no demand for complete secession. However, should such an aspiration find appeal among the majority of the Tamil people, it is only due to the divide created by successive bourgeois governments. If resolving this contradiction requires that the Tamils be given their Eelam, then that is what is needed to bridge the two into a united struggle and repair the relations between them.

Abolish all laws proclaiming a monopoly state language and a monopoly state religion!

For self-determination for the Tamil people !

Down with India’s imperialism!

Defend the rights of Tamil Minorities !

Immediate trial for war criminals !

Perspective on the work stoppage at Bajaj

The nearly 50 day long tool down action at Bajaj’s Chakan plant was a landmark action by the workers of the Chakan industrial belt, both for it’s duration and the impact it has had in radicalizing the otherwise ‘peaceful’ situation at the Chakan industrial belt. The core issue of the struggle was over the ill-effects of the imposition of total productivity methods at Chakan modelled on the system at Maruti Suzuki and union busting tactics of the management at the Pantnagar plant.

The action at Chakan may be linked to the developments at the Pantnagar plant in Uttarakhand where the workers were deliberately denied from joining the Vishwa Kamgar Kalyan Sangathana ( VKKS ). The harrassment of workers at that plant led to the union at Chakan break the old agreement and make a fresh set of demands targetting an improvement of their working condition. The union leadership however, was limited from the start, by targeting shareholding in the company for workers as a ‘lasting’ means of improving worker’s wages. The leaflet distributed by the union expressed the ideological basis for their demand for shares, the belief in trusteeship, championed by Jamnalal Bajaj. This demand more than any other was what was highlighted by the union.

There were other issues as well. During the meetings, the question of condition of work for contract workers was raised more than once. Bajaj like every other major industry prefers the hiring of contract labor to use of permanent workforce. In the slump period in the auto industry, contract labor again gave way to the use of trainee workers. This together with the total productivity methods, squeezed out the highest possible productivity out of the workers at the plant, not to mention rendered them precarious owing to the contractual nature of work and the temporary or trainee status of the workers. However, the union did not raise these questions concretely in their charter of demands. On the contrary, the allotment of shares, which was stressed by the union, would only aid the management in exploiting the workers. With shareholding, the workers are tied in to the profits and losses of the company, and consequently, hostage to the policy of the management.

At no point was the tool down action directed towards more militant forms of protests like gheraos or factory occupations, or pickets. The result was that the company had a free hand in forcing the trainee workers to work overtime to compensate for production losses due to the tool down. Even though this was illegal, the union leadership preferred a legal course to tackling this than the more militant alternative of installing a gherrao of the factory. However, the enthusiasm of the young workers at the union ( their average age being 26 ), proved to be an inspiration for other workers to join in solidarity. The Shramik Ekta Mahasangh which was the umbrella body of industrial unions in the Chakan belt expressed their solidarity with the workers. However, no tool down action was taken by them.

All in all, the workers at Bajaj had to go on their own. The workers showed both determination and unity in carrying on the tool down action for more than 50 days beginning from the 25th of June till August 14th. This was all despite management tactics of harrassment and attempts to break the strike, not to mention, threats of shifting production away from the Chakan plant to neighboring Aurangabad. In the end the strike was ended ‘unconditionally’. The union leadership under has promised to ‘continue to press for the demands raised by the strike action including wage revision’.

Thus, the work stoppage action ended without any demands conceded, and a murky uncertain future awaits for the suspended workers. The management feels emboldened with its success in ending the struggle without any concessions made, and in potential for shifting production to any other plant in the country.

The unity of workers which has been building up albeit in a somewhat distorted manner since the general strike of 2010, has tremendous implications for the future of the worker’s movement. The Bajaj tool down action represents both the problems and the potential in mobilizing workers in India.

The larger picture :

Though the action at Bajaj ended without consequence, the significance of this work stoppage action can’t be ignored in the larger picture. Since the beginning of market reforms and what is generally called ‘neo-liberal’ growth, the condition of workers in India has become more and more precarious. Contractorization, casualization and rationalization of workforce in addition to privatizations of public companies have added to the burdens of the working class. The ‘boom years’ of the Indian economy also saw the birth of a new phase of class struggle, with the workers at Honda revolting. Soon after, the Gurgaon industrial belt became the scene of the most significant labor movement in recent times centered around Maruti. The rest of the country has not been immune to this. It was not too long since the workers at Mahindra’s Nasik plant struck work after the arrest of it’s union leadership there.

With worsening conditions of work, and the entry of millions upon millions of freshly proletarianized peasant populations ( people who’ve been rendered wage slaves due to loss of subsistence income from the countryside, pushed into the cities or factories to find work ), a new young working class has been created out of the most rebellious and desperate section of india’s populace. The increasing intensity of struggles, with frequent cases of workers turning violent, is an unsurprising outcome of the brutality of the system upon the lives of these populations. With shrinking stable job opportunities, owing to a stagnation of organized employment, most of these wage slaves end up with the worst kind of work in the unorganized sector, if not end up unemployed yet again.

The increase of this reserve labor has strengthened the ability of capitalists to impose their will upon the workers. It is not for no reason that the management at Bajaj could compensate the loss of man hours as easily with trainee workers. The system favored him, but the times are against him. The world crisis has affected india, and the problems of a proletarianizing economy founded on the systematic destruction of peasants and petty bourgeois, has come crashing in. Workers become more rebellious and there is an ever present danger of it becoming violent. The example of Gurgaon-Manesar industrial belt stands as a warning before the greedy bourgeois.

With this new method of exploitation, there have been new movements of resistance against it. The movement for organizing contract workers for decent, secured job opportunities through their regularization, epitomizes this. The proliferation of contractorisation in Indian industry has given new impetus to the movement to organize contract workers. There is not a single major company where contractorisation has not taken roots, and consequently, there is an ever present struggle against the conditions which it brings about. This is one area which can combine the struggles of workers in private industry with those in public industry where contractorisation is emerging in a major way. Take the case of BSNL where almost 100000 workers work as ‘outsourced’ contract workers. But while the significance of the struggle seems obvious, the nature of the movement is restrained to a company specific approach. No focussed effort seems to be in place to create a movement of all workers against contractorisation uniting both public and private sector workers. Building such unity is the need of the day !

This is not unconnected with the developments in the public sector. The crisis has forced the government to aggressively target the public sector for increased privatizations. The results have been a spree of strike actions by workers against privatization. Coal India Ltd, BSNL, Neyvelli lignite have all been witness to workers protesting efforts at privatizing these companies. These have so far been successful in restraining any efforts at completing the privatizations of these companies. The question of contract workers and overall, the question of improving work conditions are not unrelated to this. Privatization brings with it a worsening of working conditions, and increasing precariousness of work. The workers of the public sector companies are essentially waging a defensive struggle against privatization and against losing the security that comes with state ownership. This stands in contrast with the actions in the private sector where existing conditions of work are being challenged.

The public sector is a fortress for the working class, and a lifeline for giving sustainable secured employment. It accounts for a majority of organized workforce in the country as well as being in the commanding height of the economy. Uniting the workers of these two sectors would strengthen the working class in their struggle against Indian capitalism. This would not be possible without the necessary political leadership.

On the Garment’s workers struggle in Bangladesh

On the Garment workers struggle in Bangladesh :

The garment workers in Bangladesh are up in arms against the cronic exploitation and mistreatment meted at them by the garment bosses. The tipping point was reached when the 8 storied tall Rana plaza collapsed killing several hundreds of worker’s families living there. Already reports are coming out involving workers attacking textile factories burning them down.

Bangladesh has been tense since the Shahbag uprising which mobilized students and a large section of the progressive petty bourgeois intelligentsia for the trial o war criminals responsible for crimes against humanity during the 1971 liberation war. Soon after the movement had began, workers struggles emerged after the disastrous fire in the Tazreen garments factory which used to supply to Wal Mart. The garment worker’s movement has gained a new vigor, aided by the disintegrating pre-revolutionary political situation.

The garments industry – an industry steeped in brutality :

Bangladesh’s economy is dependent entirely on the most shameful exploitation of it’s poor. This reflects clearly upon the condition of garment workers which has been exposed by the deadly disasters plaguing the sweatshops which dominate the industrial landscape of bangladesh. The garments industry is one that has been historically notorious for the exploitation of cheap labor starting from manchester’s cotton factories in the 19th century and to the sweatshops of bangladesh of this century. The textile industry in Bangladesh remains a labor intensive one where profits are based upon reducing as far as possible the cost of employment, including safety for workers.

In this context it is very important to note that the bulk of the 3 million workers employed by the industry are women workers. The bosses prefer employing women workers due to their particular skills in sewing as well as difficulties in organizing for struggle. The latter is the main reason behind the preference for women workers in this industry. It is the desire of the factory owners for control and discipline over the workers under their employ which is indispensable to allow for the vicious exploitation which is imposed upon their workers.

The importance of the industry and vested interests :

The garments industry alone accounts for 70% of bangladesh’s exports and 10% of it’s GDP. This ‘economic strength’ is sought on the basis of minimum wages of as low as rs. 1700 *( $34) per month. It is no surprise then that every major textile and garments producer is seeking more investments into bangladesh to perpetuate the exploitation of it’s people. Equally unsurprisingly, many major international retail companies led by the likes of Wal mart have used Bangladesh as a preferred sourcing destination. Of late, this ‘favorable’ situation has attracted among others, heavy Indian investments into the garments sector, attracting up to $600 million *( out of a total of $935 million dollars of investments ) last year alone.

Apart from major foreign interests, there are powerful politically linked indigenous capitalists who run the majority of the 5100 garments factories in Bangladesh. The Rana plaza at Savar belonged to one such garment oligarch, Sohel Rana. Politically, he was a leader of the youth wing of the Awami League which is the ruling party of Bangladesh. These companies are by and large dependent on exports to advanced countries primarily the USA which corners the lion’s share of Bangladeshi textile exports.

Bangladesh’s garments industry is a major beneficiary of proletarianization which has been brought about by, among other things, ecological terror imposed by India through it’s dam building *( by blocking the natural flow of water from rivers across the border thus drying many rivers in eastern and western districts of Bangladesh) and domination over Bangladesh’s sovereign EEZ (through holding key strategic islands near the Bangladesh border and sealing off direct access to the bay of bengal). Indian capitalism has played a vital role in ruining bangladeshi agriculture in these two ways. In addition to that, India has played a key role in providing political and military security to the ruling government in Bangladesh which has been of critical importance in defending this most vicious impoverishment in the Bangladeshi countryside. We see the results of this proletarianization in the deaths in the garment sector disasters.

It is the combination of various economic and political factors together with the context of proletarianization of bangladeshi society which has made the bangladeshi textile sector the second largest in the world, second only to the likes of China.

Character of existing struggles :

One of the highlights of the movement of the garments workers is it’s spontaneity. The norm of most struggles of textile workers in bangladesh hitherto has been to conduct wildcat strikes against their bosses. A nationwide strike too has been undertaken before, but by and large, the strikes of garment workers have been sporadic and spontaneous. Notable instances have been the strike of textile workers in 2006 and again around 2009 following the soldier’s mutiny. Among the demands made by the workers, the chief among them have included fair wages, decent working conditions and dignity of work. It is notable in this context that most of the 3 million workers employed in the garments industry are women workers. This is partly so as a deliberate policy of the garment factory owners who take advantage of the perceived weakness of women workers and the relative difficulties of organizing them politically and within trade unions to control them.

The nature of the present wildcat general strike has been characterized by ‘plebian anger’ directed against the very means of production in which they work. The first object of anger for the workers have been the garment factories themselves. Soon after the tragedy at Savar, garments workers have burnt several factories in protest. This action has been reminiscent of Marx’s description of the initial period of struggle by the proletariat in the Communist Manifesto : “They direct their attacks not against the bourgeois conditions of production, but against the instruments of production themselves; they destroy imported wares that compete with their labour, they smash machinery to pieces, they set factories ablaze”. However, unlike the primitive workmen of the mid 19th century that Marx described, the garments workers aren’t interested in ‘restoring the abolished status of the medieval workman’ but in achieving higher standards of welfare and better conditions of work !

This combination of plebian anger with a more advanced trajectory of struggle is a potentially revolutionary combination which can open the way for further more advanced struggles in the near future and gives the garments workers’ fight immense importance in the socio-political landscape of Bangladesh. What is severely lacking in this picture is the presence of an organized revolutionary force which can channelize this raw energy and lead the workers through more advanced tactics in their battle against the viciously exploitative garment bosses and their imperial protectors.

At the same time, the nature of the industry compels us to assume an internationalist perspective for the worker’s struggle in Bangladesh. We must be ready to form a solidarity of textile workers and retail trade workers in india and the US respectively to support the struggle of the workers in Bangladesh. Support from the Indian working class is critical for the struggle in Bangladesh, as it is Indian capitalism which has through it’s agencies ensured the political domination over Bangladesh which has made the exploitation in the garments industry possible. Likewise, solidarity from workers in US retail companies particularly those like wal-mart and others are critical in strengthening the fight in Bangladesh and thwarting the chain of capitalism which runs from Bangladesh to the Americas and Europe.

Demands to put forth :

The struggle of the garments workers reveals all that is corrupt and exploitative about capitalism in Bangladesh. To fight this system, we must place forth demands which correspond to the deepest needs of the workers. A gamut of transitional demands must be built in order to give a consistently revolutionary direction to the struggle of workers.

1) Compensation for all aggrieved workers and punishment for the garment bosses :

The most pressing immediate struggle aims immediately at the compensation for the workers who have lost life and limb due to the factory collapses at Rana plaza and Tazreen garments. The government must be pressed to give immediate compensation to the workers and their families not only to cover their health costs but to cover loss of prospective loss due to loss of income. In addition to this, the owners of Rana Plaza and Tazreen garments must be brought to book for their criminal negligence that has resulted in the death of nearly 500 workers.

2) A guarantee for decent working condition and labor practices :

The core of the struggle of garments workers is to achieve decent working conditions including proper safety in factories and a living wage. The workforce in Bangladesh is notoriously underpaid and ‘cheap’. This situation must be alleviated by the immediate implementation of a law guaranteeing a minimum living wage which covers the basic needs for a family of 4 and which would be adjusted to inflation and cost of living index. With each rise in inflation there must be a proportional rise in the living wage.

3) Nationalization of the garments industry :

Private garment factories both local and foreign are responsible for the worst labor practices in Bangladesh. But they get away with this because of their political protection. The only solution for destroying this vicious matrix of exploitation that characterizes the Bangladeshi garments industry is to nationalize the industry and place it under worker’s control. This is a precondition for any real advance in decent working conditions.

Report on the General strike

The All India General strike of the 20th and 21st was the third such strike in the last 3 years. The strike evoked a massive response much in the same manner as the last two strikes preceding it. In each instance over a 100 million workers affiliated to the 11 central trade unions and supporting regional and local unions joined in the strike actions. This time as well, the strike garnered the support of roughly 120 million workers across the country in practically every sector of industry and service. Despite a greater intensity, and larger turnout, we can’t ignore the shortcomings of the perspectives of the trade unions and the shortcomings in organizing for the strike.

 
The context of the strike :

 

While dealing with the instant strike action, we can’t ignore the political, economical and social context in which the strike has occurred. The past year had been a year of worldwide upheavals and India was not immune from this wave. The mobilizations first around the anti-corruption issue, then around the anti-rape agitations each left it’s mark on the social spectrum of the country. Added to this, we have been witness to an upswing in the worker’s movement. The inspiring struggle in Maruti for union recognition, the successes of public sector workers at preventing privatization in telecom and banking sectors, are all indicators of a rise in class struggle in india and the strengthening of the working class. Together with this we find a deepening of the world crisis and a concerted effort by the ruling classes to preserve the rule of capital at all costs.

The burden of this crisis is being transferred onto the shoulders of the workers and peasants of India. Whilst in europe the attacks have assumed the form of austerity, in india they have assumed the form of deliberate inflation, and aggressive investment policies along with concerted attacks on public sector companies. Indeed in some parts of the country the attacks on the peasantry have assumed near warlike conditions. The response to these attacks while strong have not been decisive. The chief factor behind this had been the role of the political leadership behind the strike, blunting it’s edge and reducing it’s impact.

The organization of the strike and demands :

The 2013 general strike can be distinguished from both the 2012 and 2010 strikes in terms of length and care put behind propaganda and organization. The call for strike was made on the 4th of September, where all the central trade union bodies came together in a national conference and adopted the charter of 10 demands. From that time till the days of action, the central trade unions and their local and regional allies undertook several mass efforts at propagating the demands for the strike, and raising awareness. One of the high points of this preparatory phase was the mass mobilization of the workers in a ‘jail bharo’ action where workers courted arrest for supporting the 10 charter demands. The mobilizations did not stop there, till the 19th of February, one day before the days of strike, there were mobilizations carried out especially by leftist trade unions in the major cities of Kolkata and Mumbai in which hundreds of thousands of workers and activists participated.

With these preparations the strike itself was expected to be one which would be met with enthusiasm and it would have a big impact. Whilst the turnout was indeed substantial on the days of the strike, the impact of the strike was in fact uneven. Not every segment of the working class joined the strike due to various reasons. Workers of the transport sector for instance were conspicuous by their absence in the strike, with a few notable exceptions in Bangalore and Delhi where taxis and busses did not ply the roads. The rail workers as usual did not go on strike along with other workers. Their concerns too were not incorporated into the charter demands. Along similar lines the workers at Pune municipal corporation did not go on strike with the industrial and service sector workers who responded well in Pune.

In the state of Haryana, the strike had a particularly intense response with workers going on the aggressive. In Noida there were clashes between workers and policemen who attempted to prevent the marches through the city, while in Ambala tensions arose when a transport worker was killed by a moving bus while attempting to stop traffic. No doubt, this aggressive stance is the direct result of the radicalization of workers in that region as a result of the Maruti struggle. However, the biggest impact of the strike was expectedly in the states of Kerala and West Bengal where the unions have strong political support in the Stalinist parties present in these states. Here the strike call was supported by a total closure of all economical activity in a ‘bandh’.

The rallying point of the strike was the charter of 10 demands which the trade unions had jointly developed for the agitation. The 10 demands were :

1) Take Concrete measures for price rise

2) Take concrete measures for linkage of employment protection with the concession/incentive package offered to the entrepreneurs.

3) Ensure strict enforcement of all basic labor laws without any exception or exemption and stringent punitive measures for violation of any labor laws.

4) Universal social security coverage for the unorganized sector workers without any restriction and the creation of a national social security fund with adequate resources in line with the recommendation of the NCEUS and parliamentary standing committee on labor.

5) Stoppage of disinvestment in Central and State PSUs.

6) No contractorisation of work of permanent nature and payment of wages and benefits to the contract workers at the same rate as available to the regular workers of the industry / establishment.

7) Amendment of the minimum wages act to ensure universal coverage irrespective of the schedules and fixation of statutory minimum wage of not less than 10,000 rupees.

8) Remove all ceilings on payment and eligibility of bonus payment, provident fund and increase the quantum of gratuity.

9) Assured statutory pension for all.

10) Compulsory registration of trade unions within a period of 45 days and immediate ratification of ILO conventions no. 87 and 98 on the right to organize.

When we begin to analyze these demands, we understand that firstly they are pegged to the a compromise with the existing ruling structure. To the extent that many of the aforesaid demands point towards the bourgeoisie’s own laws and simply call for their more effective implementation, be it in calling for implementation of ILO conventions or implementing governmental committee recommendations. Where the charter does challenge the interests of the capitalists it only does so in a defensive manner for example, “no contractorization” or “stoppage of divestment” instead of Nationalize the major private companies or abolish contractorization of work. In general, these demands reflect the trend in worker’s consciousness at the present level and are reflective of most if not all struggles they are presently involved in. The main factor in creating these conditions have been the leadership of the worker’s movement itself which has taken every care to dim the strength of the struggle in India. Of particular importance has been the dominating role of Stalinism and it’s progressive degeneration in the left movement in India and the world.

These deformities reflect not only in the charter of demands, but also in the tactics of organization which were used throughout the preparations. Though the organization of this strike showed a decisive improvement over the preceding strikes, thanks largely to greater care taken to mass propaganda activity before the days of strike, the methods of organizing the rank and file retained it’s bureaucratic approach. There was still no fundamental difference in approach towards mobilizing rank and file. The strike was still following a bureaucratic method of mobilization which drew success only because of the worker’s own weakened consciousness and the anger which every average worker has towards the system of capitalism generally and in particular the ruling class.

The choice of dates for the strike itself showed a strong streak of opportunism in it. The 21st of February was international language day, and in order to placate a rising trend of bengali linguistic chauvinism, the trade unions in west bengal refused to go on strike. This as well as the nature of mobilizations contributed to blunting the impact of the strike. After the massive mobilizations which preceded the strike, one would expect that the strike itself would have lived up to radical expectations. It is outright criminal in our opinion for the trade unions to have weakened the strike action so.

 

Lessons to be learnt :

 

We acknowledge the role of the present general strike as well as the strikes preceding this one in the larger picture of class struggle in india. There is no denying the change in the condition the repeated mass mobilizations of workers have achieved in india. That being said, we must also caution ourselves with the realization that a way forward must emerge from here. The re-emergence of the working class in the centre of indian political and social life has deep consequences and demands deep and profound questions.

Firstly, we must pose directly the question of leadership in the worker’s movement. It is the direction shown by the leadership of the working class in india, which is chiefly dominated by Stalinism, which has led the working class to it’s present situation. If we consider the framework in which this strike was conducted and the organizational tactics adopted, we see some clear signs of Stalinism at work. The opportunism in deciding the date of strikes, the dilution of the potential impact it could have had and the bureaucratic methods adopted in directing the rank and file of the union all contributed to weakening the potentially greater impact of the strike action. To mention nothing of the purely economical nature of the demands made despite the strike action having clear potential to make a strong political impact !

What lay at the roots of this compromising approach of the political and trade union leadership in the working class? The Stalinist parties and the trade unions under their influence, both share a capitulationist attitude towards the bourgeoisie as a whole. This is particularly true in parliamentary democracies like India. The major Stalinist formations in India, namely the CPIM and CPM have long since made peace with the bourgeoisie in power and they would not dare take any measure which would unsettle this balance. The working class in advance of course, forces them to take up a more militant stance against the bourgeoisie. However, such actions are carefully conducted so as to retain the dominating positions of the party and trade union bureaucracy. The prime motivation of the leadership is not to struggle for the overthrow of the bourgeois state, but simply to to carve out a stronger position for themselves within the existing framework of social and political relations. Having made peace with the Indian bourgeoisie the leaders of Stalinism have by extension made a pact with democratic reaction. They effectively drain the militant potential of the working class and it’s allies into the dead end of parliamentary politics. The fate of the strike actions in the long term would remain bound to defeat and capitulation at the gates of parliament, as long as Stalinism continues to excersize it’s hold over the working class. But this in itself is not the end.

The answer to democratic reaction is permanent mobilization. We have only begun to see the faint flickers of this in the form of ‘sangharsh jathas’ conducted in various parts of the country in support of the strike demands. Whether this will succeed in forcing the government to accede to the demands of the striking workers or not, is a question that can only be answered after the budget session on the 28th of February. What is needed are more militant actions conducted with a view to push forward ever higher levels of actions with a clear view towards seizure of power by the working class. This means adopting a transitional approach which stems from the present level of consciousness of the masses and moves towards a higher level of socialist consciousness. This reflects in the form of transitional demands made by a revolutionary force. Of course, we cannot hope for the present political leadership of the working class to adopt such views, neither the from the Stalinist ‘left’ parties and definitely not the right wing bourgeois formations. What is needed is an independent revolutionary party of the working class with a perspective towards seizure of power and the establishment of a worker’s state in India.

Conclusion :

The strike has shown both the power of the working class and the weaknesses plaguing it. The complex dialectic attached to this has created conditions where a revolutionary party can emerge. This party must build itself in class struggle and on the rock solid foundation of a Bolshevik Leninist programme. We understand that the struggle of the workers may be national in form but international in essence. International solidarity around the fight of the Indian working class is more necessary now than ever before especially in this critical period where the class is in revival of it’s strength. Building the revolutionary leadership in the form of the 4th international and the Bolshevik Leninist Party has become a most necessary task of our time.

 

In conversation with a Nepali Bolshevik

In this interview with a radical bolshevik student from Nepal, Bibhusit Bista, we publish a set of responses to some important questions pertaining to Nepal and the revolutionary process over there, understanding what are the political and social forces at work in determining class struggle in Nepal.

1) The Nepali revolution was a landmark in recent world history. It was what can rightfully be called as the first ‘Spring” of the 21st century. It was also important as a part of the revolutionary struggle in South Asia where monarchy was abolished. But since the beginning of the revolution, there have been many negative developments and it appears that the social agenda is not being pursued. The revolution appears to have stopped at the achievement of a republic. Would you agree that the revolutionary process has ended at the republic ?  What is the present situation in Nepal and what is the future of class  struggle in Nepal ? 

1. The ‘speciality’ of Nepali revolutions/uprisings till date is that all of them have ended in reaction. Be the 1950 revolution against Ranas, 1980 students’ uprising, 1990 uprising or lately, the 2006 uprising. One of the chief features is the class-collaborationist, Menshevik line adopted by Communist Party of Nepal during these events. Its failure to recognize the reactionary nature of the bourgeoisie has always applied brakes to the evolving revolutionary situations. With their continuity of this tradition, this time by the Maoists, Nepal has once again fallen to a period of reaction. The UCPN-M seems to have adopted Menshevik theories while CPN-M led by Mohan Baidhya look unclear. What’s common to both is their insistence on aligning with the non-existing revolutionary bourgeoisie which is supposed to be ally of the working class.

The revolutionary tide seems to have receeded. With the recent split in the Maoist party, there is a chance of revolutionary polarisation. But here in Nepal, there’s no genuine revolutionary alternative.

2)  The recent statements from the Maoist leadership in Nepal has stated that they would like to ‘normalize’ relations with india and also called for greater foreign investment in Nepal. There have been many other overtures from the Maoists in Nepal which seem to indicate a reversal in policy of the revolution. Our question is,  what do you feel has been the role of the Maoists in the development of the revolutionary process ? 

2.The Maoists actually played an important role in the development of revolutionary processes. But they are also equally responsible for giving it a death-knell. There’s a great significance of the “People’s War” in unfolding the latter political developments in Nepal. The political consciousness it aroused, mainly among the peasants and the social gains in their base areas have a great importance. Even the 2006 uprising became effective only after Maoists joined it. In a country where almost 80% of the population are peasants, Maoism appeals a lot to them. But when put in practice, it starts showing its faults. Vice-chairman of UCPN-M and Prime Minister Dr. Baburam Bhattarai believes that to sustain the Nepali revolution, it’s essential to take one of our neighbours in confidence. In this case, India. He also sees the indispensability of “national capitalism” before the transition to socialism. But that is totally a defeatist position resulting directly from the Stalinist two stage theory.

3) Can you give us an overview of the classes and parties in Nepal and what role they play and are playing presently ? Which political force has been in the leadership of the working class, students and peasants respectively ? Which segment played the vanguard role in the revolution and what was the role of each sector of society during the revolution in 2006 ? 

3. Peasantry constitute around 75%-80% of the population. They are mainly represented by Maoists. As we’ve seen before, a part of it have played a revolutionary role. The industrial proletariat is mainly under the reformist CPN(UML). But recently Maoists have also gained some hold but the unions are full of corrupt bureaucrats. The working class has been totally misled and there’s a dire need for a revolutionary, militant alternative. Speaking of the working class, there’s a large number of transnational proletariat working mainly in India and the middle east. Besides these, there’s Nepali Congress Party which represents the bourgeoisie-landowners. There’s also a monarchist party and some fringe parties, mainly representing a section of the prtty-bourgeoisie. There are 3 major students unions, of which Maoist affiliated ANNISU-R seems to be the largest. The other two are Congress affiliated NSU and ANNISU affiliated to CPN(UML)
The April uprising of 2006 was a spontaneous one, Pretty much like the February revolution in Russia. We saw people from all walks of life take part in it-peasants, workers, doctors, civil servants, doctors, lawyers etc. We at times saw women leading the protests and strikes. The students mainly were the vanguard of the revolution. They were not only the vanguard but the guiding revolutionary force who called for republic and not just the reinstatement of parliament.  The working class played all important role. The royal regime shook to its foundation once they went on a general strike. All we lacked is a farsighted revolutionary party with a revolutionary tactic.

4) With this background, what would you say would be the path of development for a Bolshevik Leninist *( Trotskyist ) party in Nepal ? Additionally, there was a clear hand of imperialism in the sabotaging of the Nepali revolution, in particular the Indian ruling class played a leading role in formulating the compromise between Maoists and the republicans and monarchy. What do you feel about the need for an internationalist political approach in Nepal ? 

4.I think we should start off with a Trotsky reading circle and build a party around it. There’s a total absence of Trotskyist literature here in Nepal. People seem to be unaware of him and his ideas. So, for the formation of an organisation, we need to start from scratch. The Maoists are also being discredited by the masses. So, I think this is the perfect time to introduce Trotsky to the Nepali masses.
The Indian ruling class has always been dominant in Nepali politics. Since the 1950 uprising, the leading revolutionary force have bowed down to them at the decisive moments. The same thing happened during the April uprising. The fate of the uprising was already sealed as a result of the compromise between the Maoists and the & party alliance, facilitated by the Indian ruling class. It will be foolish to expect the Indian ruling class to end its hegemony in Nepal and pave way for the proletariat to power. So, an internationalist approach is a must to advance the cause of the proletariat here in Nepal.

5)  Of late there has been a concerted attack on Trotsky by the Maoist press. It seems as if there is a fear in the minds of the Maoists towards Trotsky and his ideas especially of permanent revolution. What is the situation of Trotskyism in Nepal ? Are there any groups or individuals involved in any kind of party or group building effort ?

5. Trotskyism in Nepal is infant. Nepali Communist movement has been dominated by Stalinism-Maoism since its beginning. People still view Trotsky from the eyes of  the Stalin-era falsified history. Many of the seasoned Maoists seem to have the same view. The attack on Trotsky is typical of Stalinists-Maoists, here and elsewhere. Yes, they seem to fear his ideas and do everything they can to discredit him. But there’s a new interest developing towards the revolutionary legacy of Trotsky and his ideas and I think that the future is bright for Trotskyism in Nepal.
There are only a handful of Nepali Trotskyists I know of. Some of them are associated with International Marxist Tendency, which seems to be practicing the entryist tactic. But I have not known of any independent trotskyist group/organisation here in Nepal.”

Shahbag Mass Awakening

– *( The following report has been written by our contact from Bangladesh Tamzid Ahmed )

The ongoing protests began on 5th of February . The people were out demanding death sentence for all war criminals . The war criminals were those charged with crimes against humanity during the revolutionary liberation war of Bangladesh in 1971, they are popularly called ‘Rajakars’ who betrayed their motherland and sided with the US aided Pakistan army in suppressing the fight for freedom. Their methods were vile and brutal! They engaged in wanton killings of the civilian population, they would depopulate entire villages, and brutalize their victims. One very popular tactic employed by this army of reaction was to dump dead bodies in rivers to block transport of guerrilla troops through rivers. Till now, many are reported missing whose bodies have not yet been recovered. The Rajakars revelled in the rape of women and used this vile form of sexual oppression as a weapon of psychological warfare, minorities would be singled out for rape and genocide. In the course of the liberation struggle it is believed that almost 3 million were killed .

For 42 years the anger and indignation of the people of bangladesh remain dormant, but now they have risen! The present round of protests started with the judgment of Kader mollah *( popularly known as the butcher of Mirpur) which reduced his award from that of death penalty to life imprisonment. Kader Mollah was found guilty of killing 352 people in mirpur ,raping women and in three other charges .Despite the weight of his crimes, he was still given the relatively light sentence of life imprisonment. It was then that the people of Bangladesh came to the street to demand justice! At first the protests were small drawing only a few people. But as the protests continued more than hundreds of thousand of people came in and now the protests are going on a daily basis. The protestors have occupied the area of Shahbag and refuse to go to home at night. The protestors are committed to see justice achieved and won’t leave Shahbag till every last war criminal is hanged !

Some of the popular slogans at the protest rallies are : “JOY BANGLA!” (Victory to Bengal!) “AGUN JALO ” (Light the fire!) ” KADER MOLLAH TULE NEBO TOR KOLLAH ” Jamaat e islam made in pakistan “. Today is the 5th day they are protesting in the streets .. and theres no sign of their going home ! There is no one political party or organization leading this rally and from all appearances it seems to be a spontaneous rally led by the youth of Bangladesh. It is a fantastic time we are witnessing with the next generation of Bengalis are beginning to finish the revolution left unfinished by their fathers.

The Maruti July struggle : Where Caste meets Class oppression

Fact finding teams of New Wave New Delhi* have confirmed that the ‘murder’ of the executive at Maruti is in fact a lie and in all likelihood he died in an accidental fire. The factory at Manesar is now under lockout and workers are under threat of layoffs with plans of the plant being shifted to Gujarat.

The death of the executive has been highlighted by practically all news channels, however what was deliberately missed out in their coverage was the cause of the violence at the factory shop floor. Preceding the violent incident in July, a worker got into a brawl with the company’s casteist supervisor who repeatedly insulted the worker’s caste. After bearing this insult for long enough, his tolerance finally broke when he assaulted the supervisor. The Supervisor being of an upper caste background and the workers mostly lower caste. After this assault, the management had the worker fired from the company but no action was taken against the supervisor for his behavior.

The workers at Maruti’s Manesar plant rose in solidarity to defend their fellow compatriot during which the violence ensued. The company sought to tackle the workers with force and subdue them. A tactic which backfired and ended in getting the company’s HR executive killed. The present situation is still tense, with the factory being under lockout and the workers under threat of mass layoffs and unemployment.

What this incident shows :

The situation at Manesar shows in full the convergence of caste oppression and class oppression which is one of the central pillars of India’s proletarianization based economy. The workers at Maruti’s Manesar plant are one of the most exploited amongst organized workers, but consequently are also one of the most militant. They are a perfect example of caste oppression working to squeeze out exploitable workers from the countryside and force them into the urban industrial sphere, where they are taken as ready-to-exploit labor force.

The worker’s fight for better working conditions and freedom of organization at Maruti, goes hand in hand with the fight against caste divisions and caste oppression in the countryside. The convergence of oppression must be replied thus, with a convergence of militant struggle against the twin pillars of caste and class oppression in India.

Urgent need of solidarity:

Most unions have de facto abandoned the cause of the Manesar workers and anti-caste organizations have been conspicuous by their silence. This has allowed the thoroughly pro-bourgeois and pro-upper caste news media to distort facts to its own liking and paint the workers of Maruti as arch villains ‘hurting India’s growth’. The workers at Manesar face the unfettered vengeance of the Maruti management and of the Haryana state government. At this juncture the most criminal betrayal would be to leave them in this fight alone.

All progressive and revolutionary forces across the country, committed to the cause of the working class and its oppressed brethren in the countryside, must unite with the workers at Maruti in this struggle against the oppressive treatment on part of the Maruti management.

*[ http://new-wave-nw.blogspot.in/2012/07/press-statement-on-struggle-in-maruti.html press statement of New Wave Delhi ]

Update on the Indian Situation

An update on the indian situation :

We had written our last document on the indian situation in 2010. The context of that document was the massive watershed general strike of 2010. That strike was a watershed since it worked towards breaking trade union fragmentation and united workers across unions and across different sections. Clearly there was a change taking place in organizational perspectives of the masses. Add to this a general situation of world crisis as well as a period of political and social turmoil in town and country. Since then there have been some changes, but not fundamentally so. Far from a decrease in social tensions in India, there has been an increase in class struggle and a frequency of strikes and mass mobilizations both in town and country. Overall our analysis from the situation in 2010 still holds today, but we must take into stock certain changes which have occurred since then.

Increasing class tensions:

The year 2009 to 2010 saw an upsurge of worker’s militancy which peaked with the general strike of 2010 and the indefinite strike at the Maruti plant at Manesar a year later. But there was no cession or decrease in these tensions since then, on the contrary there was a continuation of the militant wave spilling over from the last year, this time witnessing militancy in public sector enterprises. The world economic crisis has forced Indian capital to expand more aggressively internally, resulting in a militarist approach to deal with dissent in the countryside as well as concerted attacks on public sector undertakings, in particular those sectors in which considerable private Indian capital enjoy monopoly positions.

The telecom and air transport industry are two main areas for attack. BSNL and Air India are presently being targeted vehemently for privatization and pro-private structural changes. The workers have not taken these moves without reaction but have taken to strike actions and protests. The frequency of these actions have also increased. Between the last major general strike and the one in 2012 there was only a 14 month gap while before that it took more than 7 years between the general strike of 2003. These mobilizations are not without political consequence as was seen during the general strike of 2003 which tilted popular opinion against the then incumbent government led by the BJP and eventually brought them down. Since then a policy of aggressive proletarianization in india has created multiple class tensions both in cities and in the countryside. The old class tensions released at the turn of the century have thus only intensified and become more organized. At present the tensions under the surface have reached near critical levels showing an advanced stage of the pre-revolutionary situation in India, and this reflects in the nature of class militancy, organization and direction of struggles.

Yet another interesting trend has been witnessed in the popular movements for self-determination in Kashmir and elsewhere. Earlier upheavals saw a very minimum participation of working classes in these regions, and a total subjection of these upheavals to a reactionary agenda. However, increasingly, the mobilizations are turning towards more concrete demands with a clearer agenda with the reactionary forces finding it far more difficult to retain mass support. Self-determination struggles have become more sophisticated in the present context and far more closely interwoven with class struggle between bourgeois and proletariat.

Significant political changes :

The rise of class struggle by the working class and its class allies *( the marginalized and marginalizing petty bourgeois and peasantry ) has effected important political changes which will affect the socialist revolution in India. The petty bourgeois in india has been squeezed out more and more under pressure from big capital, to the point where an extreme stratification is taking place between enriched petty bourgeois and those who are marginalized. The middle ranks of both peasants and petty bourgeois are almost being driven to extinction. This new stratification has resulted in a more left leaning and more democratic leaning petty bourgeois which finds itself fighting against the forces of big capital. The latent tensions have now come out most clearly in the form of the petty bourgeois led anti-corruption movement. This was the largest spontaneous mobilization of people since 1977. The impact of this movement has to cripple the ruling Congress party completely curbing their bonapartist tendencies more. Despite it having failed to reach any of its objectives yet and having fizzled out, it has opened up a new chapter of class struggle in India and wrenched out a huge mass of petty bourgeois from the grip of the bourgeois political parties.

Within the same timespan events in Bengal changed the face of the left in India, with a total rejection of Stalinism by the people of Bengal and Kerala. The weakening of Stalinists have created conditions for the further advancement of the left in India and made space for the rise of a revolutionary Bolshevik Leninist alternative. New trade union initiatives and organizations are emerging which are increasingly organizing disorganized workers and contractual workers in the cities, and new spontaneous organizations are emerging in the countryside organizing the peasantry to defend against increased attacks from Big capital. Overall, we are witnessing a situation which bears some similarities with pre-revolutionary Russia in the immediate years before the revolution, with a plethora of dissenting organizations and a popular movement emerging against the ruling Tsar.

The crisis of sub-imperialism:

A rapid global expansion of indian capital has brought with it the problems of becoming an emerging centre of Capital. Part of that is integration with the forces of Western Imperialism and economic thrust into Africa has brought with it massive foreign debt and exposure to volatile western markets. The crisis in Eurozone as well as the USA has hit India in markets When the crisis did hit, India could only offset the effects through a rapid expansion of industry and deeper penetration into the domestic market. Overtime, Indian capital has been making more militarist overtures in desperation of penetrating regions not yet penetrated firmly by Indian Capitalism. But this rapid thrust into the Indian hinterland has been failing when faced with stiff local resistance and a tribal-peasant based Naxalite insurgency. When the thrust to the countryside stagnated, the focus shifted to within the urban sphere, targeting state enterprises, but here again they faced stiff resistance from organized workers to defend their welfare. Attacks against worker’s wages are continuing to fail as organized militant workers are fighting against this. The usual tricks of corruption and scandals wrecking the democratic institutions of India are now being thwarted just as much.

Internationally, the Arab spring in the middle east has posed new challenges to the free expansion of Indian capital to these areas, as well as the war in Afghanistan seeks to throw a spanner on the imperialist dreams of the Indian bourgeois. The Indian bourgeois is increasingly finding it more and more difficult to keep up the false facade of bourgeois democracy intact, as it finds itself surrounded by hostile forces both at home and abroad by hostile forces. The bourgeois may well choose a more dictatorial alternative to bourgeois democracy, but as has been seen throughout Indian history, with each measure to suppress the masses, the masses have responded with an equal of greater force against such measures of the rulers. The objective factors for a revolution are not only present in India today but are ripening more and more with each passing day to the point that it has become over-ripe for a revolution. What is found in wanting has been the presence of subjective strength which can harness the power of these objective factors and channelize them into a revolutionary socialist direction.

Revolutionary party building – an urgent task :

As the objective conditions for a revolution continue to mature, the most urgent task facing revolutionaries in India is to build a revolutionary Bolshevik Leninist party to lead the Working class and all oppressed masses to a Socialist revolution. It must be remembered that it is not enough for objective maturity of a pre-revolutionary condition to give a revolution, what is necessary is to complement it with a subjective force strong enough to give leadership at the critical point of revolutionary upsurge. That point of revolution is nearing with rapid pace as is evident from the frequent upsurges being seen in the country today.